Sunday, September 18, 2011

2011 Bismarck Marathon Relay

Friday Erin was able to get off work a little early and we left town around 4:15.  I had made us some sandwiches for the road and we ate along the way.  When we arrived in Bismarck we began to finalize plans for the next day.  I called up Rick and we decided who would run each leg of the relay.  I would take the 6.25 first leg, Rick would take the 6 mile second leg, Kristy would run leg 3 which was 4.75 miles, Rick would run for a second time with the 5 mile 4th leg and Erin would finish up the last 4.2 miles of leg 5. After getting all of that squared away we then talked about how we'd get around.  The previous year buses were available to get us to each relay exchange point. However this year with the new route we would have to work out our own transportation.  We ultimately decided that Erin's dad Tony would drive and take us around to each relay exchange.  With all of that finally decided we headed to bed to get some rest before a very long day.

Saturday morning we woke up a little before 6:00 and got dressed for the race. We met up with Rick and Kristy on our way to the park to give them a parking pass before heading to the park.  We arrived just before traffic got really heavy.  We chatted in the parking lot for a bit before making our way to the starting line. I wandered around and found Heather getting ready to run.  She was running the full marathon while her twin sister was running the half marathon with a friend of hers.  I wished her luck and we parted ways so she could drop her stuff off in the bag check area. I meet back up with our group just before the race started so I could drop off my jacket.  When the race started I hung back a bit so that we would be towards the very back of the pack and hopefully not have to fight with congested trails.

The weather was a bit on the cold side with a stiff breeze and it misted just enough to barely keep the ground moist the entire morning.  The first leg of the relay loops around cottenwood park before heading south with the relay exchange at the top of the hill inside the university of mary.  The park was fun to run through, it was well maintained but did smell a little funny in a few places.  There was one spot along the trail that was lined by sandbags and had some pumps keeping the trail mostly dry.  I thanked the volunteer there and told him I hate running with wet feet.  From there the course was fairly flat and as I ran I kept an eye on my heart rate.  After the hard run the weekend before I wanted this to be a bit more relaxed, at least until I got to the hill.  As I approached the hill I was running with a couple of ladies and chatting with them. When we arrived at the base of the hill I told them that I was going to put some work in and started to pick up the pace by almost a minute a mile.  As I ran up the long hill I began to pass more and more people. One lady seemed almost shocked when she finally noticed me, I don't think she was expecting to be passed like that on the hill.  As I rounded the corner and headed into the university I thought the course would flatten out again, but I was wrong.  I kept climbing until I was at the relay exchange point and Rick took the timing chip from me.  I took a minute to catch my breath and then we headed back to the van to get to the next relay exchange.

As we drove to the second relay exchange point I was still quite warm, but when we arrived there and I had to go outside again a quickly became chilled.  We stood around for a little while waiting for Rick until Erin said she was going to walk over to the port-a-potties and Kristy decided to join her.  In keeping with our tradition from the previous year, Rick showed up when Kristy was in the bathroom. Eventually the exchange was made and we hopped back in the van to get to the next relay exchange.

At the next relay point we stayed in the van to try and keep warm.  We figured we had until around 10:30 until Kristy would be there.  Shortly after 10:00 Erin's dad came over and said that Kristy was almost there.  I filled Rick's water bottle from my own and he was off heading up the hill to the university.  When Kristy got in the van we tried to figure out why we were so off in our estimate.  Initially we just thought we couldn't do math until I asked her if she had run around the park before headed south.  It turns out that she had missed that loop because of how the volunteers worded the question when telling her where she needed to go.  She was about 2 miles short of what we were expecting her to run.  Since our goal for the day was just to have fun, no one was really upset about the mix up.

Rick's exchange to Erin would only be a few hundred feet from where we were so we didn't have far to go.  We spent most of the time waiting in the van to try and stay warm. When it was about time to get out and wait for the exchange I asked Erin how fast she was going to try and run.  It sounded like something I'd be capable of doing so I asked if she'd like company and she said yes.  We waited a bit more for Rick before Erin took the timing chip and we headed out. I was really cold starting out and opted to keep my jacket on, but after a mile the sweat was pouring off my face.  Neither Erin or I wanted to disappoint the other person so we both worked real hard the last 4 miles of the race.  A few full marathoners passed us, but we were doing well compared to other relay teams.  With a quarter mile left Erin and I caught and passed another relay runner that we had both seen take off a few minutes before we did.  It felt really good to pass her. Rick and Kristy joined up with us to cross the finish line.  Erin and I were working hard and I tried to motivate her a little more to get every last bit of effort she had.  After crossing the finish line I felt like throwing up, after a minute or so I asked Erin if she felt the same way and she confirmed she did.

After dropping off the timing chip we walked over and picked up some food for the finishers and Erin got her medal.  I picked up some snacks for later and drank some chocolate milk as we looked for Erin's dad and Rick and Kristy's daughters.  When we assembled our group again we decided that we'd head over to Famous Dave's like we did the previous year and get something to eat.  After we ate we said our goodbyes and Erin and I headed back to her parents house to clean up before heading back to Fargo later then we were originally planning.

When we got back to Fargo I had a little bit of time to relax before getting ready for my third run of the day.  Connie needed to do a 20 mile run this weekend and I had said I would tag along for it. The overcast skys had followed us back from Bismarck but it wasn't misting.  The wind was a bit stronger then in Bismarck and it almost caused me to dress warmer then I what I knew I should wear. I met up with Connie in our usual location and we started to head south out of town.  We had found a gravel frontage road a week or so behind walmart that we wanted to try out and this was as good a time as any.  It was a little boring running down a perfectly flat straight road, but still fun since it was the first time we'd been out that way.  It got dark out shortly after we got going but I brought head lamps for both of us.  A few times as we ran that night we'd see the reflection of the light off of eyes in fields, but couldn't figure out what they belonged to.  It was creepy.  When we made it out to the wild rice exit on I29 we looked back at the lights of the city and marveled at how far out of town we were.  

We started to hear some loud sounds in the distance but couldn't figure out what it was.  It didn't quite sound like thunder, but we couldn't rule it out.  We also saw some flashing in the sky and figured a storm was moving in. We continued on towards University drive and just after we passed the wild rice grill and bar a vehicle came up behind us and began to slow down.  Rick had seen some fireworks and decided to drive out and check it out.  Since he was already out south of town he figured he's swing by and check up on us since he knew what our route was going to be. Connie and I felt better knowing that there wasn't a storm moving in and started to head back into town on University.

Around this time I told Connie that I was starting to struggle and she did her best to distract me with conversation.  Our plan was to turn onto 76th avenue and head towards Davies on our way back.  When I remembered that we were going to turn I thought we had already gone by it, but just ahead I caught a glimpse of a street sign. We needed to run across the road to read it, and luckily enough it was where we needed to turn.  We headed west again toward 25th street.  I was still struggling on occasion, the long day was starting to get to me, but Connie helped me stay positive and we kept moving forward.  After going by Davies we headed toward 52nd Ave.  When we arrived at the intersection of 25th and 52nd we walked and ate our hourly snack. This is when I finished my water and we decided that we were going to cut our run short.  Somehow Connie mentioned that her husband would be bringing her son's girlfriend home in a few minutes and I jokingly suggested we just get a ride back.  A few minutes later we recognized her car drive by and make a U turn.  We ran to the side of the road and pretended to pull up out short to show some leg.  When the car pulled we we found out it was her son driving with her younger son in back with his girlfriend.  Connie was a little embarrassed, but we had a good laugh about it.  Since there wasn't enough room for both of us right then we waited a bit as they went and dropped off Matt's girlfriend. On their way back they picked us up and gave us a ride home.  I finished the run about 5 miles short, but for the day I put in around 26.  It was a productive day of training and I had a blast doing it.

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